Red Dead Redemption Homesteads – What It Could Look Like
At no point has Rockstar discussed the creation of user homesteads – but rather I have been mentioning it as I write about the game (1 2) as something that it really ought to have as a feature – something to make it feel like this world that is going on around you isn’t just happening to you, but rather that you are also shaping it yourself. When you have no roots anywhere in the world, but some base camp that keeps moving on you, you’re left adrift and it severely limits your interactions with the world around you.
To break down barriers, I am stating unequivocally that Rockstar may take these ideas and put them into action without providing me with any compensation whatsoever outside of providing a better product for me to purchase. I waive any legal right which obligates any compensation or presumes any ownership of the ideas on my part. With that said, I won’t refuse any completely voluntary compensation (via my Patreon page below) – I just don’t demand it. Completely optional.
Certainly we’ve seen enough of them with John Marston, who left the Van der Linde gang to build his own with his wife Abigail and his son Jack – and of course in the first Red Dead Redemption he finds himself creating a temporary home at the MacFarlane Ranch. Rockstar, themselves, pioneered the free roam game and have placed homes for its protagonists in past games, even allowing them to purchase them to create a local base and illustrate the illustriousness of their illicit activities. If Tommy Vercetti can have a mansion, shouldn’t your gunslinger be able to spend their illicit gains toward something lasting? A legacy?
A homestead would allow just that, and the world created offers several suitable spots for a homestead – with vast miles of wilderness. Just east of Twin Stack Pass sits a nice triangle of land which could easily set the basis of a homestead, even with some buildings across the road.
Then just west of your camp in chapter 3 is a remote island (you find the tricorn hat there), potentially connectable by bridge or even just a static boat, with a cozy cove that could make a nice island retreat with a fishing theme.
Then we have the area south of Bolger Glade and West of Shady Belle that would do fine with some light tree removal.
If you want more swamp, there’s in the south of Bayou Nwa where the road intersections are reminiscent of the southern tip of Texas that would do nicely – relatively unwooded and even railroad access.
Even St Denis still has room on its north side if you were to create another farm right there.
And we would be remiss to forget about land along the southern border of the Elysian Pool – with a beautiful view.
This is just a handful of areas across only two of the five states already present in Red Dead Redemption 2, and any one of them would make a great homestead. Throw up a house, stables perhaps, docks, maybe even a general store, saloon, or sheriff’s office. It can turn into a fledgling town over months of grinding away – your own sculpted piece of the world.
Of course, it cannot be simply placed on a server – with camps it’s hectic enough with a camp being set and then raised up as someone else claims the spot only to be placed down somewhere else automatically. A constantly changing landscape you get booted from just wouldn’t work. This is one of the reasons to make it appear locally on your machine when playing on server which lets your console generate and process the world while only tracking your statistics. Host a session amongst friends – with your console sending them the details of the world around them, and your homestead can be enjoyed by your own posse without having to worry about the infringement upon other players and without Rockstar having to worry about processing the homestead. If you play on the social or PVP servers I suggested, you will find no homestead, but when playing locally it will be right there for you to enjoy.
Architecture in the game is already varied, from the standard wooden frames seen in towns across the map to rustic shacks with gaping holes to brick buildings to the fancier architecture of the inn in Strawberry or the mansions of the mayor of St Denis and Angelo Bronte. Without major reworking of parts already in their toolset, you could choose from several different styles to create something amazing. Perhaps you’ll purchase individual rooms to place together or perhaps little a variety of prefabricated buildings will be provided to be placed as a whole. There is a lot that Rockstar could do, and sell, when it comes to this. Will you create a world of splendor or a dark, twisted labyrinth reflecting a disturbed mind?
Rickety architecture is found in the swamps of LeMoyne, a bit in New Austin, and of course the shacks of the frigid mountains of Ambarino. Similar architecture also exists in the ghost towns, more patchy, though that’s unlikely to be desired by anyone. It’s shoddy workmanship, clearly sometimes made through radical repurposing of other parts – doors become walls. This sort of building should be cheap compared to others – perfect for the player looking to plop up buildings for utility or who just likes the aesthetic.
Then, perhaps the step up is what is probably seen as standard architecture. These pictures are from around Valentine, but similar buildings can be found all over – the standard architecture of Strawberry, Rhodes, Tumbleweed, and Armadillo. When you come across buildings in the wilderness, they’re likely built in much the same manner. It is also probably the type of architecture that most players will opt for – so make sure the color options are available. You’ll also notice a stark difference between the bare style of the inner walls of our saloon on the east side of town versus the wall papering on the inn; it’s also painted on the outside.
There is variety within the style that could scale the prices, but it’s best to place it all bare. From there you can opt to paint the wood or place wallpaper for an extra price. Use the base wood siding and let that be a base price, charge half that for the rickety style and double for the high end.
But, there is higher end versions of this. More intricate corners can be found on some farmhouses – a more regal version of the wooden siding. Victorian turrets and fenced in porches and perhaps verandas mark the style as something special.
Strawberry also gives us a higher end craftsman style, with intricate carved railings and every inch of space under the roof utilized.
St Denis and Blackwater introduce bricked buildings – sturdier and presumably better insulated than the wooden. They will certainly stand longer and leave a longer legacy.
Perhaps finally, if we ignore unique structures like the Mysterious Hill House, we have great mansions that are found in LeMoyne – throughout the North and West sides of St Denis and of course Caliga Hall and Braithwaite Manor. Marvelous facades followed by luxurious insides speak of a great expense and a pinnacle of grinding.
Building a Homestead
The first part of building a homestead should be the purchase of the requisite land – different areas should cost different sums depending on the buildable size and economic opportunities available at that land. Indeed, some land is good for ranching, though the swamps of Bayou Nwa would be a poor place to leave vulnerable livestock. Other land is good for mining, or hunting (equipped with hunting towers), or perhaps cash crops. If you manage to build it to the size of a town (such as Valentine or Rhodes) it might be able to attract gambling income, illicit income, or tourist income. While pricing it should depend on these factors, it should be balanced between being accessible to people fairly early on and being high enough to make the purchase feel meaningful.
From there, it comes down to building on the lot. You may be able to add lean-tos and camp fires with hitching posts to the actual buildings we discussed. However, if you want to grab people’s attention for an extended period, you want to avoid the mechanics of Assassin’s Creed where you simply pour money into upgrading something and it’s predetermined what happens. You want customization, so you want to be able to place buildings manually, and even design them – though not quite to the extent of The Sims. Rather, entire rooms can act as building blocks, placing entry ways, side rooms, stairways, etc. For the lazy, entire layouts can be placed as well, but these should be bare. The lazy option is something that has been seen in the likes of Star Wars: The Old Republic.
After we have the shell, paint or siding can be applied to wooden homes to customize them. Fencing can be placed around a chosen perimeter, as well as the potential for gardens or other features. Of course, then there’s the decor – from beds to couches to stoves and fireplaces to random boxes to wall decor. Perhaps you can even place artists in St Denis and Strawberry who will paint our valiant characters and their friends as a gold bar decoration.
Since there is more compact areas in towns and ranches than in the wilderness, it will become necessary to be able to place roads around the buildings to allow for a proper layout. Trails would be cheaper than roads which are cheaper than avenues and we should also be able to choose between the cheap, beaten dirt road and the more expensive brick or cobblestone roads of upscale areas.
Of course, we will screw up or change our minds as to what it should be, so scrapping buildings or the entire lot with getting say 75% of the costs returned would offer a mutually beneficial opportunity.
But, beyond the home itself comes the economic possibilities – placing fields and livestock pens and hunting lodges and inns. Prefabricated buildings may be the standard for these things, as well as sheriff’s offices, doctors, gunsmiths, saloons and general stores – though they could add significantly to the experience. With the character designer already available for online characters, you could allow the same – optionally – for designing the others living on your homestead.
The overall variety should allow for several things to be done with the homestead. If you want a luxurious personal landed estate, that should be a possibility. If you want a ranch like Emerald Ranch, that should be a possibility too. If you want to build an entire town like Valentine, Strawberry, or Rhodes – at least the main drag should be possible. If you want a shady outlaw outpost like Thieves’ Landing, equipped with Gatling guns, that dream should come true. Building an entire city such as St Denis is a bit much – and it would significantly drain hunting in the area, though I’m sure no one will complain about the option if Rockstar chooses to expend the effort.
However, the building of a homestead should only be part of the experience. It’s wonderful, but it also allows for a lot of content to become possible. As you’re building the homestead, opportunities should be popping up to allow for greater immersion in the world.
Depending on where you build your homestead, different communities may contact you for help to build bonds – and economic opportunities – or, conversely, a player might unlock some illicit missions to rob nearby communities or the source of their supplies. Wild animals might be threatening your fledgling homestead, or perhaps a local gang is demanding payment and need to be corrected in their line of thinking. Ongoing rivalries might involve fighting off rival gangs or lawmen from nearby towns on a regular basis.
Beyond that, several stores have different goods available – weapons are available in Valentine which are not available in Rhodes (at least in the offline mode). If you are building a general store or gun smith or tailor, perhaps in order for certain goods to become available, rather than paying a fee, you have a mission in order to unlock it. Arthur gets his bolt action rifle from taking down Shady Belle with Lenny and stealing a large shipment from the LeMoyne Raiders – a similar dynamic might be used for your homestead, especially if Rockstar intends to introduce new weapons for higher levels.
Even finding people to man these shops might be tied to a story – because what is bringing them to set up shop with you anyway? Missions where you are breaking people out of prison or saving them from rival gangs could help explain where you obtained your stablemaster or butcher.
A great deal of content could be added which is tied to these homesteads to encourage people to make them part of their experience and even drive more microtransactions for Rockstar to profit from if they are made worthwhile. However, this is much more likely to happen if you take to their feedback section and suggest the idea – every time it is suggested it increases the attention they will put on the idea.
All images are in game captures. Fair use.
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